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INFO TECHNOLOGY

Network reliability a must

Network failures have become less and less frequent in the business thanks to continuously improving network equipment reliability. The majority of organisations have already replaced their extensive paperwork by a company network. Nowadays, more than ever before, the network is changing facets of both a company's internal as well as external control systems.
On the other hand, this development puts strong pressure on network reliability - an increasing number of companies are now significantly dependent on the company network.
There is nothing like a totally reliable network information system and therefore it is in the interest of a company to do its best in order to provide the most consistent network system possible, i.e. to invest in reliable information technology. Such an investment should, of course, also cover protection of the network.


Peter Borak

Network failures have become less and less frequent in the business thanks to continuously improving network equipment reliability. The majority of organisations have already replaced their extensive paperwork by a company network. Nowadays, more than ever before, the network is changing facets of both a company's internal as well as external control systems.

On the other hand, this development puts strong pressure on network reliability - an increasing number of companies are now significantly dependent on the company network.

There is nothing like a totally reliable network information system and therefore it is in the interest of a company to do its best in order to provide the most consistent network system possible, i.e. to invest in reliable information technology. Such an investment should, of course, also cover protection of the network.

The responsibility for this investment decision is borne by company management and is based on their analysis of company priorities. In addition, this assessment should be made in co-operation with IT specialists, although, it should never be their sole task. The fundamental step to be taken in this respect is network investment planning. The planning must correspond with business requirement analysis outcomes. In this context it is extremely important for a company to see how different elements of the business inter-relate - e.g. by simulating a system failure in any part of the business (to find out what the impact would really be).

In the case of an "Internet business", the most reliable network system available is a must, while for less "extreme" cases, company management should consider the necessity of such an investment (i.e. how long a company would be able to endure the network system downtime).

The network investment analysis should answer the following questions, e.g.: how seriously can an email system breakdown (for example for 2 hours) affect the business, how is sensitivity of messages protected, etc.? In connection with the above, one should remember that a single server in the net with solid network connections can cause a series of hardware or software problems. And how can these be prevented? Current IT makes it possible to promptly find weak points in the network - newly developed software tools can monitor the network for a defined period of time, showing network profiles (e.g. in the working week) and highlighting any performance problems occurring.

The answer to the question of a "good buy" of a reliable network system lies in understanding which network elements are more vulnerable than others before making an investment decision. Prioritisation of business needs is a basis for recovery planning (e.g. in network downtime). A growing number of companies currently opt for outsourcing their network to a service company, which provides them with specific network task realisation. Although outsourcing allows companies to offload these technology issues, business managers' roles remain unchanged: to understand their business priorities and how the network can support them.

Peter Borak is Information Risk Manager at KPMG Slovensko. His column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to pborak@kpmg.sk.

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